Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10 Cool Things I Now Know

Let me just say I haven't quite mastered walking my talk. For that reason, even though I know it isn't a good idea to offer unsolicited advice, everything that follows could be construed as that, since it's for my niece and she hasn't exactly asked me for it.

It's not that I think I know better than she what she should do in her life. I don't. And I know she has the right to learn for herself what will and will not work, without others like me butting in to confuse or complicate things.

But she turns 18 soon. And all I really have to offer that's meaningful, besides another birthday check, is the cool and helpful stuff I've learned, which, when I actually make a point of applying in my life, makes things so much easier.

And since I think the only thing worse than unsolicited advice is withholding really good secrets, I will venture to err on the good-secrets side:

1. There are always fewer jerks on the road when I leave 15 minutes earlier. I don't know why this is, it just is. And for some reason, the lines at the bank, grocery store, and post office also don't seem as slow. I learned this from a funny, wise man who's originally from Boston, which, when he says it, always sounds like Baaston.

2. Rejection is protection. I know this because years ago when I was a magazine editor, if my employer hadn't demoted me, which eventually led to my leaving, I would have never been hired by another publisher, who gave me what ended up being my favorite job in my editing career.

3. It's better than a stick in the eye. I learned this from my late father who, anytime I ever whined about something, would tell me this to help me put things in perspective.

4. Delay in life doesn't mean denial. I know this because after 10 and a half years of dating, my husband finally proposed--and we have now been married nearly 14 years.

5. People who are grumpy, mean, self-absorbed, selfish, annoying, and unpeaceful need my kindness the most. I know this because when I am any or all of these, kindness from others helps me dissolve the behavior much more quickly and shows me by example a better way to be.

6. People who are grumpy, mean, self-absorbed, selfish, annoying, and unpeaceful are my greatest teachers. I know this because the people who cause me the most un-peacefulness in my life continue to be my reason to master the art of being peaceful when the people around me aren't.

7. The difficult takes a little while, the impossible a little longer. I learned this from an elegant woman who learned it from her father. I know it's true, because since the age of 12 I've wanted to tell stories about my life, but didn't believe I was a good enough writer. Five years ago, when I suggested a column of personal essays to my local newspaper, they turned it down, confirming my fear. But I worked on my writing, queried them again, and now, at nearly 50, I am a contributor to that newspaper with this very column. So maybe it's true what Vince Lombardi said: "We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time."

8. I am the only reason I may have a bad day today. I learned this from a truck driver who told me he wrote that bit of wisdom on a slip of paper and taped it to his bathroom mirror to remind him each morning who the real troublemaker was. I know it's true for me, because when I am agitated everyone seems mean and when I am peaceful everyone seems kind--or I don't care anyway because I'm so darn peaceful.

9. There are two kinds of business: My business and none of my business. I don't remember who I learned this from, but I'm pretty sure it was people who wanted me to stay out of their business.

10. Intuition is the best source of advice. I know this because it has always told me whether unsolicited advice--from a meddling aunt or anyone else--is worth listening to.

QUESTION: Do you pay attention to you intuition and, if not, why?

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